Eating Healthy on a Budget is possible with this post. Is eating healthy expensive? Not with these tips! Grab a healthy meal plan & budget recipes here! Learn how we spend less than $500/month on food, while eating mostly organic, healthy food that tastes amazing.
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After sharing our experience for eating healthy on a budget- many of you were asking for more info. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite resources and tips for eating healthy on a budget.
Is Eating Healthy Expensive?
One of the most frequent comments I get about eating healthy is that ‘it’s just too expensive’. I strongly disagree. If you’re paying full price at specialty grocers for everything… then yes, it’s going to be *outrageous* to eat healthy.
If you think ahead a little bit, shop smart and plan ahead – eating healthy doesn’t have to be expensive. In this post, I’m outlining how we eat (mostly) organic meat + produce while spending less than $450 a month on groceries. Here are our best tips!
10 Money-Saving Tips for Eating Clean on a Budget
Here are my best tips for saving money while eating healthy. I’ll go in depth on all of the tips below, but if you only read one thing from this post – it should be this list!
- Buy in bulk.
- Buy less convenience products.
- Plan your meals out.
- Always take inventory of your fridge before going to store.
- Only buy what’s on your list.
- Shop sales and stock up.
- Stop eating out for meals – cook at home!
- Use coupons
- Buy from the bulk section if your store has one
- Save your leftovers + repurpose.
We also have a The Best Healthy Pantry Staples list if you need more help with figuring out how to stock your fridge/pantry
#1 – Buy in Bulk.
How to shop in bulk on a budget:
If you don’t have a Costco, BJ’s or Sam’s Club Membership – invest in one. I have a membership at Costco, and I would have to guess that I save at least $500 a year with it.. probably more!
I buy everything I can in bulk- produce, household items, and more! Costco has an awesome array of meat, poultry, and fish (organic and wild caught are not always available, but I usually do find them). I use what I need when I first buy it, then package it up and freeze it for the next time I need it.
The produce is always super fresh, and they have a surprisingly large selection of my favorite healthy staples like quinoa, beans, vitamins, eggs, yogurt..etc. I’m not a member at any other wholesale club, so I can’t vouch for them, but Costco is awesome.
Here’s a link to our Costco favorites
Tips for buying in bulk:
- Use your freezer – You might be hesitant to buy large quantities of things (like meat) because you can’t eat it all before it goes bad. I like to divide up what I get from Costco – half goes in the fridge for the week ahead, and the rest goes in the freezer for another day.
- Buy frozen veggies – Frozen veggies are often up to half the price of fresh ones.. and guess what? They’re just as good as fresh! We roast them in the oven or pop them in the microwave. Easy, cheap, and convenient!
- Buy hearty veggies/fruit – Mushrooms and berries are apt to go bad quickly. Heartier veggies like carrots, brussels sprouts, and potatoes will last much longer. For fruits – citrus fruits, bananas + apples are much heartier
#2 – Buy Less Convenience Products.
With eating healthy, I feel like there is this trio of things: convenience, $$ friendly, and healthy/good ingredients. In my experience, you can’t have all 3.
If you’re really committed to saving $$ while eating healthy, you probably want to stay away from convenience products like dressings, prepackaged snacks, precooked chicken, and sauces.
Yes, these things are great in a pinch.. but in the long run, if saving money is your goal – you’re going to have to trade some of your time for $$. Spend a few minutes putting a chicken in the crockpot instead of buying a rotisserie chicken. Make your own tomato sauce instead of buying jarred.
#3 – Plan Your Meals to Eat Clean on a Budget.
Planning your meals ahead of time is *huge* when it comes to saving money. If you don’t know what you’re eating and when you’re eating it, you’ll not only find yourself at the grocery store multiple times (total waste of time) but you’ll be wasting money.
Take 5 minutes out of your week to sit down, and plan out your meals. We have over 300 recipes here, but our Pinterest is another great resource for meal planning! We have boards organized by dietary restrictions, meal type, and protein (turkey, chicken, pork, plant based, etc).
I’m sharing my meal planning strategy below.
#4 – Always take inventory of your fridge + make a list before shopping.
I did a video about exactly how I plan out my meals. You can watch it here.
My first step is to look in my fridge, what do I have there that needs to be used up. Maybe it’s carrots, chicken, rosemary, and lemons. (whatever you have that you know you need to use)
Then, I head over to pinterest and look at my boards (or my own website) and decide what recipes I can make using what I already have.
I’ll add those recipes to my plan, and fill in with other ideas or recipes I want to try. I have a free meal plan organizer that can help you with this. Click here to get it.
I make a list of the ingredients I need (which usually is pretty small) and go to the store. This brings me to my next tip…
#5 – Only buy what’s on your list.
When I go to the store… I’m in and out in *minutes*. (Yesterday I went to Costco and was done shopping and had the groceries loaded in my car in 12 minutes… I’m not kidding)
Before going shopping, I make a super concise list of exactly what I need. I use a free app called AnyList and I love it, you can have multiple lists for different stores and it automatically organizes the list by sections in the grocery store (produce, meat, dairy, etc).
When I go to the store I ONLY buy what I came from. (Ok, occasionally, I impulse buy one fun new thing from Trader Joes). Buuuut for the most part – I get what I need and I leave.
If you’re wandering aimlessly around the store, you’re going to find things to throw in the cart that you don’t really need… don’t do that.
#6 – Shop Sales & Stock Up.
I love a good sale, and anytime there’s one on something I use – I stock up. We buy a specific brand of almond milk, and last week it was 30% off at Whole Foods. We made a special trip there to get it, and bought 4 of them. (We have a second fridge so we have the space for it)
I know we’re going to use it, and need it in the future.. so why not buy it and save it for later? Whole Foods also gives an additional 10% off for a case discount. The amount of things in a case varies, but you can ask and they will tell you!
I also love shopping sales on Thrive Market, and just shopping from them in general.. it’s like everything is perpetually on sale. If you want to learn more about Thrive – read my Thrive Market Review.
#7 – Stop Eating Out and Cook at Home.
You’re probably going to hate this tip- but it’s true. If you’re buying lunch every single day, you’re wasting so much money.
Just say you hypothetically spend only $10/day on lunch 5 days a week (IDK where you’re finding lunch for $10, but we’ll just use this for even numbers. 20*10 = $200. That’s a plane ticket somewhere! And you’re spending it on overpriced salads.
This is hands down one of the easiest ways to save money, and it doesn’t have to be more work for you. The key to this is: prep double for dinner and take leftovers. Tyler and I are only 2 people… but I usually cook for 6.
We eat dinner, have whatever meal for lunch the next day, and then.. if we’re sick of it or won’t eat whatever is left, I stock my freezer for those days/nights where the fridge is empty and I need to eat!
#8 – Use Coupons.
If you can find coupons, use them! Your local paper is a great option – or just google whatever brand you want + ‘coupons’. You’ll likely find something. We have an entire page on our site dedicated to coupons. Click here to grab all of our best coupons.
#9 – Buy from bulk bins.
Our friend The Green Spectrum is the QUEEN of bulk shopping! She reminded me of this tip. “Buying from bulk bins is great mostly for grains, dried beans, nuts, and legumes. You can get as much or as little as you need especially if you’re just trying new ingredients.
PLUS I’ve weighed pre-packaged bags vs the bulk stuff and it’s usually cheaper, even if you upgrade to organic!” Not only is it great for saving $$ – it’s better for the planet. No wasted packaging! Use bags you have, or bring your own jars and tare them off on the scales. Or – grab these reusable produce/bulk bags. We got these as a gift and love them.
#10 – Save your leftovers & repurpose.
I mentioned this before – but leftovers are a game changer for saving money. We try to never throw out food unless we have to. We always cook more food than we need and enjoy leftovers for lunch or freeze them. Most of our recipes are freezer friendly.
You can also repurpose your leftovers. Maybe you cook taco meat and turn it into stuffed taco peppers another night. Shredded chicken can be tacos one night and chicken salad the next. Get creative!
Our monthly food budget breakdown:
- ButcherBox: $159
- Thrive Market: $5 ($50/12)
- Costco: $100
- Trader Joe’s or Aldi – $45/week
- Total for the month = $400-$450
Here’s a little math for you. On average, I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home every day. When you subtract eating out on weekends for 1-2 meals, you get 82 meals per a 30 day month.
Tyler eats breakfast + dinner from home every day. He has to take clients on company lunches 3-4x a week, so we’ll say he eats 52 meals/month.
That brings us roughly to 134 meals. $450/134 meals = $3.35 per meal. Y
ou can *drastically* cut down your monthly budget by not buying organic. Typically organic food is 20-30% more expensive than conventional food. I’d be confident to say if we bought conventional products we could save $125/month. You can also cut back further by eating less meat.
We personally feel best when eating high quality, animal protein – but if you can tolerate legumes and enjoy them, you can save likely another $100 per month by opting for plant based meals instead of meat.
Eating Clean on a Budget FAQs
The cheapest healthy way to eat is opting for frozen veggies over fresh, lots of legumes (dry beans are very affordable!) and opting for creative cuts of meat. Typically whole chickens and tougher cuts like roasts can be cheaper than more expensive cuts of meats like chicken breasts
Eating clean can do so many things for your body! It can help you have better digestion, mental clarity, better energy, and so much more. Eating clean may also help you lose weight.
The cheapest and healthiest food to eat is probably beans. Per pound, dry beans are one of the cheapest foods. We love to use them in Bean Soup!
Eating Healthy on a Budget Recipes:
Here are some of our favorite budget friendly recipes. We have an entire post all about Cheap Healthy Meals
Vegan Pasta Fagioli – Beans, tomatoes, spices… doesn’t get cheaper or easier than this!
15 Bean Soup – Another plant based, affordable soup you’ll love
Healthy Chicken Pot Pie Soup – Uses pantry staples you probably have already
How to Eat Clean on a Budget – Meal Plan
We have a budget friendly meal plan that you can download here.
We hope these tips were helpful for you! We want to know… what’s your favorite tip for eating healthy on a budget? Leave a comment below!